Monday, July 30, 2012

"It's Like We're Breaking Out of Prison!"


 You can tell a lot about a race by its waiver. The Prison Break Mud Run, one of the inaugural events for Runners for a Muddier Tomorrow, was no exception. After surviving the race, here’s what I learned that I would have been able to tell from the waiver.

NOTE: As I watch this, an episode of the Andy Griffith Show is on, featuring escapees from a women’s prison. How appropriate!

The surroundings were unlike anything I have run in before. The Prison Break was held in, according to GPS, “Sawdust, FL”. I have run in some pretty remote areas before, but as soon as I realized I had no phone signal in the parking lot it was a whole other ballgame. But there was more to it than that. The signage was crude (something I always notice thanks to Campus Ecology with Jody Conway), and the host location appeared to be someone’s house. Like Woodstock. With registration on the front porch and merch/food in the backyard. It was just odd.

This course was designed to challenge you, but not like most challenge courses. At one point, we were going up a hill, and I was reminded of a scene from Heavyweights where they capture the crazed leader of their camp, Tony Perkis. 

Think this, but more trees and less Spandex. It was minimally cleared with machetes, but otherwise it was large stretches of just running through the woods. And with a waiver that warns you about the possibility of running into deer, boar, or “black beers” ( I can only assume they meant “black bears” [more on that in a moment], but for me either version is dangerous) and urges research of forest plants in advance of participation, I knew this was going to be a whole other experience. It had the adventure aspect of a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder, but with the added challenge of abject fear of unknown surroundings. Thankfully there are no odd rashes or bites from wildlife! But I’m sure that wasn’t the result of effort from the organizers. Which brings me to my next point…

These organizers are clearly new at this. I am a stickler for a well-run event and a properly crafted legal document. Being a worry-prone former events professional does that to a girl. That being said, this was neither. Sometimes holding an event for the first time “shows”, and sometimes it doesn’t. With an event email that came out less than a week before the event (which was the first time we knew where the event would be), countless last minute changes to race elements, difficult signage (I know I’m harping on this, but for someone who gets lost all the time it’s really important to me!) and the crude nature of the organizer’s website, there is easily room for improvement here. I’m pleased to have participated in the inaugural version of this race, and I don’t regret participating, but it was a rough experience.

For something I was terrified of, I made it through pretty well. Despite significantly more natural surroundings, my time at Warrior Dash prepared me well for some of the obstacles I encountered on this course. However, the greater fear was admittedly an internal one. I was concerned about my own level of endurance, given the severe slump I find myself in from a training standpoint. It was somewhere between 3 and 3.5 miles, and yet I was anxious about being able to make it through. But I survived and emerged in a far better state than I expected to. I tripped but didn’t fall, stumbled but didn’t hurt myself, and varied my pace but didn’t lose my motivation. This race was a good shock to the system, and a great way to rekindle my desire to keep running.
Clearly misunderstood the directive as far as emotion for the picture.
Now that I’ve survived my second adventure race, I’m feeling a lot more confident about my upcoming running endeavors and excited for new challenges ahead.

What have you done to recharge your running batteries? Any races that have re-energized you?

1 comment:

  1. You should run the Tough Mudder with us December 2nd!!

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